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Hurd Orchards creates a pollinator meadow for bees

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Amelia Sidonio, 15, of Holley led the planting effort on Thursday for a new bee pollinator meadow on Hurd Road near her family’s farm market at Hurd Orchards. Amelia, left, is joined by Joan-Marie Gabalski and Grace Gregoire in scattering seed in the newly tilled pollinator meadow.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2018 at 7:28 am

HOLLEY – A local teen-ager is leading an effort  to create a pollinator meadow where bees will be encouraged to flourish.

Amelia Sidonio, 15, and a group of local 4-Hers spread wildflower seed on Thursday for the new meadow which is about a half mile from Hurd Orchards, which is owned by Amelia’s family.

Bayer, which has an agricultural products division, provided a $2,500 grant for the project. Bayer is paying for pollinator meadows in all 50 states, part of an effort to encourage native bee populations.

Amelia Sidonio distributes seeds to Grace Gregoire, Sadie Gregoire and Luke Gregoire prior to planting.

The colony collapse disorder and other diseases have decimated the honey bee population, making the fruit industry vulnerable because bees are needed to pollinate crops for them to grow. The new meadows will provide pollen for native bees and honey bees.

“I’m just really happy to have the opportunity to work with Bayer and start the movement of wildflower plantings,” Amelia said.

She is a sophomore at the Harley School in Rochester. She has been involved with the Orleans County 4-H program since she was 5, starting as a Cloverbud with the rabbit program.

During a 4-H public presentation, she researched the crisis with the declining bee population and presented that report. She wanted to do something to help bees, and learned about the funding opportunity through Bayer.

Her mother, Amy Machamer, was honored in 2016 by Bayer with a farming innovation award. Machamer was recognized by Bayer welcoming the public on their farm to learn about agriculture. Hurd Orchards hosts luncheons and dinners that teach about growing fruit. Machamer also teaches people how to prepare dishes with ingredients grown from the Hurd farm.

A 4-Her holds a handful of seed. Wildflower seed planted included red poppies, yarrow, milkweed, oxeye and painted daisies.

The first pollinator meadow is about a half mile from the market at Hurd Orchards. Machamer and her daughter want to add another meadow closer to the market. That was the plan last year but it was too rainy to get the meadow started.

A group of Orleans County 4-Hers met in a small field on Hurd Road in Murray on Thursday to plant a pollinator meadow. Amelia reached out to her 4-H friends who filled pails with wildflower seeds and scattered the seed in the newly tilled meadow.

“It’s important to get the community involved,” Amelia said. “It’s good to connect to different kinds of agriculture.”

Orleans County 4-Hers are pictured after the planting. They are, from left: Luke Gregoire, John Gabalski, Amelia Sidonio, Grace Gregoire, Joan-Marie Gabalski and Sadie Gregoire.

She wants to raise more public awareness of the issue affecting bees. She said the wildflowers also have the added benefit of beautifying the countryside.

The plants will germinate this year and some may flower. Next year the planting will really take hold and provide blooms for many years to come.

“That field will be absolutely gorgeous,” Machamer said. “It will be really pretty. It will be really beautiful. It will provide beauty and a pollinator meadow, and raise consciousness.”

For more on the Bayer program to help bees, click here.

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